The 10 Best Liquid Foundations

By on December 4, 2013

Finding the right foundation can be a bit of a daunting task. Mostly because it’s not always easy to find a shade that properly matches your skin tone. And if you don’t select a good match, no foundation—no matter how well made—will give you the natural-looking coverage you need.

But there are tricks for determining shade. If you are in a department store or a Sephora, where they let you try on your potential purchases, select three shades that seem right you, swipe them across your jawbone and lower cheek, get as close to natural light as possible, and examine your trio of smudges in a mirror. The foundation that matches your skin with the least amount of blending is the one for you.

If you’re shopping at a drugstore, the decision-making process becomes more difficult, because you can’t tear into those already packaged goods. So you need to go into the store with a pretty good idea of your skin tone shade, at least in a broad sense—pale, medium or dark. Then you have to trust the labels on the makeup, keeping in mind the following facial facts:

  • Pale skin tends to respond best to “Beige” makeup.
  • Medium-toned faces usually work well with “warm,” “medium” or “golden” shades.
  • Dark skin, which is perhaps the hardest to match, typically does well with “tan,” “sable” or “chestnut” hues.

Now that you’ve had a little 101 on shade matching, here are our top 10 picks for the best liquid foundations on the market.

1. Neutrogena Healthy Skin Liquid Makeup Broad Spectrum SPF 20, $13

This is hands-down the best drugstore foundation we’ve found. When used regularly, it improves skin tone and texture, thanks to the anti-oxidants infused in the formula. The broad spectrum SPF 30 means you don’t even have to think about applying sunscreen in the morning, and the lightweight formula provides natural-looking coverage that blends seamlessly into the skin. Its available in 12 shades, from Classic Ivory to Tan.

2. Giorgio Armani Beauty Luminous Silk Foundation, $60

At $60, it’s a bit of an investment, but Giorgio Armani’s weightless, hydrating foundation is worth the hefty price tag. Its buildable coverage give you control over how much makeup you feel you need, and its exclusive “Micro-Fil” technology makes application easy and leaves skin truly silky, smooth and soft. Choose from 24 expertly created shades 

3. Benefit Cosmetics ‘Hello Flawless!’ Oxygen Wow Liquid Foundation, $36

This hydrating foundation features light-diffusing properties, which give your face a natural-looking, radiant glow. Its “Oxygen Wow Hydrating Complex” contains vitamin C and E, both of which protect against environmental stressors and help prevent wrinkles and other skin-aging ailments. Choose from nine colorfully named shades, such as “I’m Pure 4 Sure Ivory” and “I’m So Money Honey.”

4. Merle Norman Perfecting Makeup Broad Spectrum SPF 25, $30

The high-definition, 3-D pigments in this foundation give your face a smooth, airbrushed look. All 15 shades are buildable, so if you can manage the amount of coverage your need. We suggest adding a little extra if you’re facing a day of family photos. Otherwise, keep it lighter for a more natural look.

5. Clinique Pore Refining Solutions Instant Perfecting Makeup, $27

If you suffer from pesky large pores, Clinque’s refining foundation is the perfect liquid base for your face. It fills in those unsightly holes and minimizes them over time, creating a soft, clean face with an incredibly smooth texture. Choose from 12 wide-variety shades.

6. Dior Diorskin Nude Natural Glow Radiant Foundation, $48

Diorskin has become a bit of a high-end cult favorite, and we understand why. The foundation has a satiny finish that goes on smooth, protects your face with an SPF of 15, and is available in 16 shades, from Ivory to Dark Brown.

7. Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Even Finish Foundation SPF 15, $47

This lightweight, gel-based foundation provides you with all-day, even coverage, as well as SPF 15. It moisturizes the skin with glycerin and Shea butter, and contains face-saving anti-oxidants, such as vitamins C and E, to add protection from everyday damage. There are 20 shades to choose from.

8. Chanel Perfection Lumiére Long-Wear Flawless Fluid Makeup, $55

The blendability of this foundation is top notch, which produces a flawless effect, ideal for everyday wear. It has a buildable texture so you can easily gauge just how much coverage you need. 20 shades, from Beige Rosé to Ambré, give you a wide range of choices to find the color that best suits your skin tone.

9. Boots No7 Stay Perfect Foundation, $9

Another great drugstore option, Boots No7 Stay Perfect Foundation contains SPF 15, vitamins C and E to fight further skin damage, and a silky smooth, rub resistant texture that is easy to apply. There’s also a hint of shimmer added in its 16 shades, which gives the a touch of extra radiance that still looks natural and clean.

10. Revlon ColorStay Makeup for Combination/Oily Skin, $12

Oily skin suffers should give this Revlon Foundation a try, which is made with “Time Release Technology” to absorb excess sebum and control shine thorough out the day. There are 20 shades, ranging from Buff to Mocha, all of which go on smooth and last for hours.